What I learned from the 31 Day Purge

November 8, 2014


A Bowl Full of Lemons 31 Day Purge


During the month of October, many of my blog readers participated in a 31 Day Purge with me.  It was a long month.  Many days were full of stress and headaches & I couldn’t wait for it to end. I realized that I had too much stuff! There are a few things I learned from this experience (and the reasons why I’m glad I devoted 31 days to doing it – and you should too).

1.  I need to become more conscious about shopping & the things I’m bringing into my home.  I found that a lot of the things I purged were recent purchases.  By asking myself these 3 questions, I have began to notice a change in my shopping habits.

  • Do I really need it?  Do I honestly need it?  Does it have a function?  Can I live without it?
  • Where will I put it?  It has to have a place!  If it doesn’t have a specific place, its not coming with me.
  • Will it bring me joy?  By purchasing this item, will it bring more joy to my life? Or is it a temporary high that will be forgotten next week?

2.  By purging regularly, there won’t be a need to go through such a daunting task again (31 days of decluttering).   I decided to add “purging” to my weekly cleaning checklist.  I’ve devoted 1 day per week to go through and purge the things we don’t use or need.  I am using this 31 Day purge schedule and rotating it every 31 weeks.

3.  Don’t hold on to things just because they are worth a little bit of money and you want to sell them “next year” in your garage sale.  If it’s going to be longer than a month or 2, just donate it.  It’s not worth the headache and it’s time to get your space back.  Just let it go!

4.  I came to realize that I shouldn’t be organizing clutter, I need to purge it.  Why am I organizing things that I don’t use now and probably never will?  Once I wrapped my mind around that concept, the purge got serious!  This was a turning point for me.


If you haven’t participated in the 31 Day purge, you can begin here.  It really has changed my life & I’m grateful to be able to share it with you.




18 comments on “What I learned from the 31 Day Purge

  1. Mary Huey says:

    It’s was an interesting month and I was relieved on the days when I didn’t have to purge anything because I don’t own anything in that category!?! One rule I’ve tried to embrace for a long time is that when I purchase something, I have to let go of something in the same category. Makes me stop and think before buying. It has had a positive impact on my books and my clothes particularly though I still struggle with yarn and fabric for my quilting. (-“

  2. Patty says:

    We are in the process of a huge renovation at our home. I told my husband I was not going to buy anything for the new space. I will go through what I have. I also will make three sections in the basement – DONATE – SELL – DUMP. I couldn’t do the purge with you because of the mess we have but once it is done. I appreciate all the information you shared.

  3. Sharon Morgan says:

    This blog post is the honest truth! I am still working thru the 31 days (too much stuff, not enough time and my husband is a bigger pack rat than I am!) and am ecstatic with how things are turning around. This was/is a great idea and am glad I chose to get on the purging ball! Thanks Toni for the thoughful incite and creative solutions#

  4. Dawn says:

    The following was the best piece of advice in your article! I have been guilty of this one, but felt such freedom when I got rid of this thought process. “Don’t hold on to things just because they are worth a little bit of money and you want to sell them “next year” in your garage sale. If it’s going to be longer than a month or 2, just donate it. It’s not worth the headache and it’s time to get your space back. Just let it go!”

  5. Laura says:

    I found the 31 day purge very helpful. It broke an overwhelming task that I procrastinate on CONSTANTLY down into manageable size. I could not believe how freeing it was to load the trunk and drop things off or repurpose things I love into a useful tool for our home. But these tips you gave today are WISDOM!! I plan on copying these on index cards and getting those concepts into this brain!! Perfect timing as the stores are chock full of trinkets that beg to jump in my cart. I appreciate the questions we can ask before purchasing and also building the mini purge into our weekly schedule! Thank you!

  6. Maureen says:

    It was a great month, and still is continuing at my house since I did not complete it. I learned that I have WAY too much stuff, that I have more emotional attachment to stuff than I should, that it feels wonderful to do a real purge rather than a fake one of giving away only the surface stuff and that I want purging to be a way of life and not just 31 days. Thank you very much for putting so much work in this challenge.

  7. Carter says:

    I really struggled with giving up things that seemed like they were worth money, or that I should be able to resell. I finally read (I wish I could remember where!) that anything you give away should be considered one of your good deeds. I guess I always had it in my head that charitable giving had to be in the form of money, which is in short supply for us right now. I realized that our clutter could really help a family in need, and it made me feel so much better about giving away “valuable” things that I never had time to sell. This is especially true for the piles of kids clothes I was saving. They might have earned me a few dollars on Craigslist but they meant the world to a family with a new baby. I love that I can still help people, even with very little time or money on my hands.

    • Rachel says:

      Agreed. I was floored when, on a whim last winter during the bitter cold, I said to my family to purge their extra gloves/scarves/hats/etc. We had already ‘purged’ and yet I still ended up with a trunk load to donate to the local homeless shelter. WHY would I need 2 pairs of snow pants?! I try to NOT go out in the snow. lol

  8. Carol White says:

    Toni ~ I’m confused by how you’re using the checklist and rotating it every 31 days. Would you explain just a tad more, please?

    Sorry about being a bit dense,

    • Rachel says:

      She’ll be rotating the 31 day schedule every 31 weeks. So, instead of doing one space a day, she’ll do one space a week.

  9. Anita says:

    i too was shocked by some of the things I purged some still with the price tags on them! Now more conscious of impulse buying ! Also so pleased with myself and our purged spaces that makes our home more efficient! And a pleasure to function in daily! Thank you!

  10. Havok says:

    Your questions for new purchases are so spot on. These are things I’m very good at justifying (which is how I ended up with so much stuff in the first place!), but do need to be answered honestly. Then again, that’s how I’ve ended up with so many crafting supplies – there’s always a use for cute stickers, they do bring me joy, and they’re so small they fit anywhere! And then my supply is overflowing! Everything in moderation, for sure!
    Thank you for having this challenege, it’s a tough subject to cover day in and day out, I’m sure, but it was fabulous. 🙂

  11. nancie says:

    I have been here all along – in the side lines – this is my first post…

    i couldn’t agree with you more – I mean i really took this on and dove in..in the past it would be like moving deck chairs on the titanic – same stuff different location…

    i took on a project i had been sooo avoiding – i have a carport laundry room that is the place where i store cleaning supplies, rags, dog blankets to leaf blower and hammer..

    So i followed the garage / pantry / mudroom / hall closet all in one. I realize in order for this area to function best i needed to simutaneously purge a hall closet…

    I “shopped the house” for containers – temporarily until I can get conainers i love and are uniform… What i will say is that the home and space just “feels” lighter. Going forward tho consistency in color scheme, and products through out the home will be key. Do you think the Allen and Roth box bins would work in a “suito” outdoor room to harness the cleaners – i would far rather have those than plastic….

  12. Hi Toni- I’m learning the rule of don’t save it for “next year’s garage sale.” It’s freeing to load my car and drop off at Goodwill. Thanks for the series. laura

  13. Since my house is not very big, and the wall space is limited (very open floor plan), it’s been easier for me recently to resist decorative purchases for the walls. 🙂 Something else I find helpful, if I am really on the fence (I like it, I have room for it but do I really NEED it?) is to leave the store without it and then, after thinking about it for a day, if I really decide I’d love to have it, I have to go back to get it (more effort, extra trip to store).

    • Karen says:

      My aunt taught me a similar solution. If the item wasn’t there when she went back, it wasn’t meant to be.

  14. Linda says:

    This is the first time I have decluttered “to the bone” and it feels great! I learned that putting things into storage didn’t make them any more useful/beautiful/needed. In fact the guilt from spending the thousands unwisely haunted me every time I went into the storage room. Not a good thing. How freeing it was to see the boxes loaded up and gone! We have one more run to Goodwill, since everything wouldn’t fit in my hubby’s truck and my SUV, and then we are done…well, sort of! It seem that the more I purge, the happier I am. I am tempted to do this every month – mainly because I now want items for my real life, not my dream life!

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